This morning an Op Ed appeared in the FT.Myers News-Press about a recent pressured decision to change a local sport kill shark tournament to a catch and release event. Here was the authors final summation:
So chalk this one up to the anti-fishing animal rights activists and fraidycat tourism boosters. It's not a victory for conservation. It's a loss for sport fishing.
We would like to refute this summation, as the author misses some big points. The folks who did the pressuring missed some big points as well, media follow up.
It is one thing to get a tournament to go catch and release but you have to explain your position to your region with the media. Failure to do this allows Op Eds like this one to grab the conversation and misdirect the intent of the change. Fair warning.
This mornings Op Ed misses the point that shark tournaments are now going "shark free" all over the USA and beyond with some creative and regional efforts. For example "catch, tag and release" events are growing in popularity in Montauk while some tournaments will soon feature "golden tags" on sharks worth $10,000 each. Catching the largest shark is always a game of chance. Typically these are the regions breeding aged sharks and more often filled with pups destroying future generations.
The desire to switch to catch and release is not a "shark hugger" phenomenon it's an evolution. From the first days of the Marlin Movement to today's no sport take was a journey that at first, a few brave fishermen and like minded conservationists brought about to save fish stocks.
Marlin Tournaments are big money draws and regional boosters. Sharks can be too.
Moving away from one tourism and fishing paradigm to another does not mean a loss...as we have seen with the Marlin folks in fact, it means a win.